One Simple Numinous Answer

Thus have I, from my pathei mathos, come to accept that conventional faith - and all dogma, be such theological or political - rather obscures the essence, The Numen, itself. Such things I now regard as abstractions which we manufacture and impose, or project, upon Reality in a somewhat vain and arrogant attempt to "understand" it, and ourselves, and others - and which, in effect, dispose us toward pre-judgement, based on such abstractions, with such pre-judgements often being inhuman in the sense that they cause suffering or harm or destroy other life.

Thus my understanding now is of how all life - sentient and otherwise - is connected, and an expression, a presencing, of that some-thing which is beyond us (and which Nature is a part of) which some-thing I have tentatively called "The Cosmic Being". This Being is not God - but rather the Cosmos, and all life, and thus we ourselves, in-evolution: with our consciousness being a means whereby we can know this Being - and The Numinous and Beauty, which are manifestations of this connected Life, this Being. Our consciousness is also a means whereby we can change ourselves, and thus be what we have the potential to be.

For me, all Art, poetry, music, literature, and Ways of Living which capture or express (or presence) something of the numinous - which so manifest something of the beautiful, the sublime, "the primal innocence" - are or can be a means of transformation for ourselves and for others. As are - or rather as can be - some personal relationships, where love, based on loyalty and that simple sharing and trust which such personal loyalty engenders, is freely given and freely received. Indeed, I would go so far as to express the belief that it is such human love, between two human beings, which is perhaps the finest, most noble, and most beautiful expression of our humanity - and there is such a sadness in knowing how much this is not the case, now, in the world where we dwell; in knowing how so many people, knowing or unknowing, abuse and misuse such love, given to them, for their own selfish, prideful, ends.

In a very important sense, we are The Cosmic Being: we are other life, we are the very Cosmos itself, although as human beings we just do not perceive this or feel this, yet. And so, being a connexion to other life, we can harm or aid this other life and ourselves, and thus harm or aid and help to assist and evolve, The Cosmic Being itself.

To so perceive, feel and understand, our connexion - which sublime Art, music (and so on) and some moments of some personal relationship are intimations of - we require empathy. From empathy there is compassion, and from both arises that desire to cease to cause suffering to other living beings: to live in such a way that we ourselves are changed, moment to moment, by remembering the numinous and by feeling the numinous both within us and without.

To do this, we do not need "prayer" - or belief in some deity or deities; and we especially do not need some theology or indeed any dogma. All we need is a certain numinous apprehension; an empathic way of seeing and being which burgeons forth into a wordless compassion; the faculty of remembering how we are but one connexion, but one transient part of one cosmic flow which began somewhere, long ago, and which will change to-be something else in some future.

Which leads us on to the very purpose of our individual lives, which I personally understand as transcending - through our mortal life's ending - to where we merge back into Life itself; returned to the Cosmos; to be part of the very consciousness of a still imperfect and still changing and still evolving Cosmic Being.

Thus, what motivates us is not the hope of some personal "reward" given to us by some deity; nor even the hope of attaining for ourselves some kind of Paradise or Nirvana. Rather, the motivation is supra-personal. For what motivates us is the reality which so plainly exists: the reality of ourselves as a loving connexion to life, to Nature, and to the Cosmos; the reality of empathy - of how we have the ability to go beyond our animal, our barbaric, past, and perceive and feel beyond the ego and even the self; the reality of suffering, and how we can cease to cause suffering and so aid Life and the very change and evolution of the Cosmos.

From all this there derives a particular and quite simple morality - a guide to personal behaviour - and a particular way of living. Our moral guide is empathy, and the personal honour and compassion that derives from this. There is thus a living in the moment; an acceptance of Life; and yet also a remembrance of suffering and tragedy, and a wordless but very numinous hope. This numinous hope is that born by the new cosmic perspective which our awareness of ourselves as one connexion brings us. Thus do we feel the centuries, the millennia, before us, and after us, and thus do we place contemporary events in perspective.

Hence there is an understanding that the only way the world - people - will change in any significant and ethical way, is by the difficult change within each and every individual: through perception, through them developing empathy, and through a living based upon that empathy, and that all we, as individuals can do, is strive to live in an ethical way ourselves, trusting, hoping, that our lives, our artistic and musical emanations, can aid such a numinous transformation of others.

DW Myatt

[Extract from a letter to a friend. I have amended the text slightly to remove typos and clarify the sense in one or two particular places.]